J. R. Richard – 1980 Topps
March 8, 2012
Intimidation, They Name Is James Rodney Richard…
I would not want to see that in the batters box.
Most everyone knows the sad take of J. R. Before the era of 24-hour info cycle, the news of Richard’s plight did spread quickly. If I recall, a lot of the media members took the Astros side that Richard was malingering. That, of course was ghastly wrong, and Richard’s life was forever altered.
But before that fateful day, Richard was the most intimidating pitcher in baseball. I contend that he was even more intimidating than Nolan Ryan. Richard had the wildness, the heat, and he had the added factor of being 6’8 and looked like he could be playing linebacker for the Houston Oilers.
Just look at this card. Did you want to stand in there and have him throw 99+ MPH ‘near’ you. He didn’t hit many batters, but he was wild enough to keep batters honest and not comfortable.
I know it’s easy to speculate “What if” a dozen different ways with Richard, but sometimes I like to remember ‘What was”. And what it was, for any of us lucky to see him pitch, was incredible.